If you are running a start-up company or a small business, you will understand the need to reduce your expenses. One of the best ways of doing it is by cutting office setup expenses through the use of a virtual office. This is particularly of use in 2021. Why is that?
We are today in a unique situation. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown has caused a major disruption in the economy. Many organizations are shut down and not able to operate from their offices.
In this situation, operating a virtual office is the best option. You can use the virtual office to carry out all your office operations. Your work can continue with employees working from home. The virtual office allows you and your team to work safely without the risks of getting infected by the deadly virus.
2021 is essentially an unpredictable year. Even though vaccines are available, cases are spiraling in some places. This has led to uncertainty, which is all the more reason why you need a virtual office this year.
What is a virtual office?
So, what is a virtual office, anyway? Well, a virtual office can be either real space or an online office, where a company can run an office without having a physical space. An office needs a common address, a meeting room, a receptionist, etc. A virtual office can provide all this to a business.
The virtual office does not exist in one location. It would have a mailing address and provide services like a virtual receptionist, etc. Meeting rooms for employees can be provided in a specific location or through videoconferencing. The biggest benefit of such an office is that a business need not invest money to set up an office but yet enjoy all the benefits of an office.
How does a virtual office work?
A virtual office can work in two ways:
1. Physical virtual office
A physical virtual office has a physical place. This can be a common office in a location that is used by many organizations. The physical office would have a business address and mail services, which organizations need. They would offer a conference/meeting room whenever the organization needs it. They can offer workspaces in a shared location. They would offer a receptionist service to manage calls. Other services like printing, copying, binding, etc. can also be offered.
2. Online virtual office
This is an online office, where there is no physical location. A mail address would be offered with mail forwarding services. There would be virtual receptionists and virtual assistants available for the organization. A variety of online tools for teleconferencing, hosting webinars, file sharing, etc. would be offered. Website services, cloud-based applications, etc. can also be offered.
Where would people work?
The employees of the organization may work at a shared location (referred to as co-working space). They are given work desks or private offices to work in. They can avail of receptionist and other services that are commonly available. This is in case a physical virtual office is used.
When a virtual online office is used, employees will work from their homes. They would do everything that they do at an office from the comfort of their homes. Videoconferencing and other such applications will be used for communication. All work would be done online. This kind of virtual office is best suited for the pandemic situation we are in.
Pros and Cons of a Virtual office
A virtual office has both benefits and limitations. If you are planning to start one for your business, you need to be aware of the pros and cons.
The pros of a virtual office include:
1. It ensures huge cost savings
This is the biggest benefit of a virtual office. There is no need to spend money to set up an office. The business owner need not invest money in infrastructure. There are no recurring monthly expenses like rent, electricity bills, etc. Since employees work from home, there is no requirement of a physical office. In caser a physical virtual office is used, only the service fee needs to be paid depending on the services used. For a new business, these savings can be substantial.
2. It is comfortable and convenient for all concerned
A virtual office is convenient for employees. They can work from home thereby saving money in commuting to the office. This allows employees time to spend with their families. For the management, apart from cost savings, a virtual office is convenient thanks to the various technology tools available.
3. Can manage all operations of an office
All the operations that happen in a real office can be done through a virtual office. A virtual receptionist can handle calls. Work can be done from home and team members can communicate and share work files through cloud-based apps. Communication can happen through online apps.
4. Safe in today’s context
In today’s pandemic context, a virtual office is safe. Employees are not exposed to the risk of being infected by COVID-19. Even if real meetings are required, safe and hygienic spaces would be offered.
The cons of using a virtual office are:
- There is lesser control since management is physically separated from employees.
- Online meetings cannot always replace face-to-face meetings.
- An organization is defined by a team that work together and has official and social interactions. This is not so easy in a virtual office.
Should you opt for a virtual office
In uncertain times, running a physical office presents many risks. Lockdowns may prevent an office from functioning. Startups and small businesses would need money for their core activities and for marketing. If they can save money on setting up an office, the savings can be used to improve their marketing and technical expertise.
While there are some limitations of a virtual office, the benefits it provides outweigh the disadvantages. Convenience for employees and availability of technology ensures work from home can be done effectively. This is why choosing a virtual office is the best option in today’s times.